Fronteer embraced Holacracy – but not overnight
Fronteer – our 20-strong strategy agency focusing on positive impact – embarked on an ambitious journey in 2016. We felt there was a need for change.
Were we a perfect company? No. Not at all
We found out that not all was great at the Fronteer. There was a lack of trust in the company. Management and the rest of the team felt disconnected from each other. People complained about.. almost everything. All in all: we sounded like a normal company. We could have continued the way we worked. But we did not want to. We felt we could do more, and work better, we could be nicer, and more honest. We could achieve much better results. We could be a much better team.
The way we approached it proved to be a corner stone of our future way of working. We did it organically. We designed a four-step approach in finding out what was wrong exactly, and where the answer might lie. People automatically formed groups based on shared interests, a timeline was made and sessions were organised. Progress was made. By itself almost. Like magic. We used co-creation as we advice our clients to do.
Firstly, we decided to open the can of worms and get all negative experiences out in the open. We called it the ‘museum of old sentiments’. During a session we collected all our input and literally hung it on the walls, we also visited the art pieces and discussed them. We highlighted what we wanted to solve going forward.
Secondly, we dove deep into ourselves. We focused on each individual unique personality and created an understanding for each other’s weaknesses and strengths.
Thirdly, we used one of our own tools called Parallel Perspectives and visited inspiring companies who already had a rather fresh way of working. We learned about self-managing teams, holacracy and about purpose-driven organisations. This tremendously triggered our own thinking.
Lastly, we created the ‘ultimate pirate ship’ and redesigned Fronteer, from the ground up. We felt we needed a clear purpose, an organisation built on trust and a model in which anyone can thrive based on his talents. In order to make our lives’ easier we decided to take the ultimate step: we became a holacratic organisation and signed the constitution. There was no way back.
In a nutshell: holacracy is a system in which you organise work based on personal preferences and ‘tensions’. It is holistic and autocratic. If no-one feels the need to solve a problem or capture an opportunity, the work simply won’t be done. Everybody fulfils multiple roles in multiple circles, who all belong to an ever-changing system. People can switch roles, and redesign the system. One of the most important rules is: take the Ferrari. Just do what you think it needed. It is more difficult to stop someone, than to execute a new idea.
Sounds difficult to implement? Yes it is, at first. is it a serious investment? For sure. Worth it? Yes! There is no way I am going back to the old Fronteer.
Curious about what I learned when I stopped being a boss? Read about it here.
Are you inspired by this story?
Feel free to contact Martijn (firstname.lastname@example.org).